I’m already tired of hearing about Harbaugh versus Harbaugh …
- Brett Jackson, thanks to a gaudy strikeout rate, struggled in his big league debut last year. The Cubs have conceded that those struggles were largely by design – they wanted him to see what he needed to work on, and they wanted to see the struggles up close – and have said Jackson will start the year at AAA Iowa to continue reinventing his swing. “We want [Jackson] to start in Iowa,” Cubs GM Jed Hoyer said, per CSN Chicago. “Things can happen over the course of a spring with injuries and whatnot, but I think we saw he’s got some things he can work on in Iowa. I look at it very, very similarly to the way I looked at things with Rizzo. [Jackson] can take some of those lessons back to Iowa. If he takes the same attitude Anthony did, I don’t see any reason he can’t do the same thing.”
- … but Jackson, for his part, isn’t ready to hear that Iowa stuff. “I have every intention of making the team,” Jackson said at the Cubs Convention, per CSN. “I have no intention of going to Iowa. I’m going to keep working the way I always do. I’m confident in my ability and who I am as a player and who I’ve become as a player. I know what I need to do and I’ve set my mind on that goal and I’m not stopping until I’m there.” That’s not Jackson being obstinate, by the way. He’s just being a competitor, and saying what pretty much any player in his position would say (Rizzo said the same things last year). So long as he takes his (probable) Spring Training cut in stride, this is all good stuff.
- As promised, the full set of Wrigley Field renovation photos, provided by the Cubs, is up now at the BN Facebook page. There are quite a few more pictures than I was able to share this weekend, and they’re larger for your viewing pleasure. Check ’em out.
- So, how about that lack of a Carlos Villanueva move yet? After Dale Sveum he expected the deal to be done “today” on Saturday, we’ve seen no movement. Clearly, the Cubs are desperately trying to swing a trade to open up a 40-man spot before having to resort to a DFA/waiver, but time is probably running out. I expect we see a move today or tomorrow.
- The Iowa Cubs introduced their new manager, Marty Pevey, who emphasized that the key to developing players under his charge is that everyone at every level of the system is “teach[ing] out of the exact same book.” I like that.
- Seedlings to Stars is ranking overall top prospects in baseball, and had an interesting inclusion at number 115: Cubs right-handed pitching prospect Barret Loux. On most organizational lists, Loux falls somewhere in the 15 to 20 range, so, unless the StS group is going to have an insane number of Cubs on their list, I’d say they’re considerably higher on Loux than most. Certainly his numbers last year were excellent at AA, but the concerns about the long-term health of his arm and the quality of his stuff remain. I’ve been intrigued by him from the day the Cubs swapped him out with Jacob Brigham, the righty with a troubled arm the Cubs received from the Rangers for Geovany Soto. He’ll almost certainly start the year at AAA, and pitching in the PCL could tell us a lot about his future.
- Loux’s former teammate at Texas A&M Brooks Raley has already debuted in the show, but could be joining him in the AAA rotation to start the year. Raley came in for some comments from John Sickels, who is generally complimentary. Among his thoughts: “Raley is a four-pitch lefty, working with an 85-90 MPH fastball (averaging 88), a slider/cutter, a changeup, and a curveball. None of his pitches qualify as plus, resulting in a thin margin for error, but when he throws strikes he can be effective. He was tough on lefties in the minors and might transfer to LOOGY work. However, since he’s a very good athlete with a consistent delivery and good makeup, the temptation is to see if he can eat some innings as a fifth starter. The sabermetric case for Raley is a weak one, but for some subjective reason I think he might surprise us eventually with a Scott Diamond-like season.”
- Dave Cameron provides modern context for just how good Stan Musial, who passed away this weekend, was at the plate: “Just using his career K% and ISO numbers, you’d essentially be looking at a hybrid of Darwin Barney’s contact skills and Josh Hamilton’s power.” Yeah, that’d be a mighty fine player. You might even call him The Man.
- Remember Egraphs? They are that sweet digital way to interact with your favorite player by way of a personalized audio message and a digital signature/message (the kind of good idea I wish I’d thought of). Well, I’ve been given the opportunity to offer you all another chance to win an Egraph from your favorite MLB player *OR* NBA player, which they’ve added to the site. If you want to enter, here’s all you have to do: later this morning, I’ll post the Egraphs contest on the BN Facebook page, and you just have to (1) like the BN Facebook page, (2) find the contest post on the BN Facebook Timeline, and (3) drop a comment on which Cubs player you think would make the best pro basketball player and why. The best comment, in my completely subjective judgment, is going to win their choice of an MLB or NBA Egraph. The contest will end Thursday at 12pm CT, and I will send the winner a message on Facebook (so, like, make sure to check your messages).
- Speaking of Facebook, here’s something that’s relatively new, which could help those of you who are avid Facebookers, but don’t see enough of the BN posts in your news feed – there’s a totally separate “pages” feed, which should pretty much show you everything that’s put up on the BN Facebook page. So, while on a Facebook bender, if you check your pages feed – which you can see on the left navigation bar on Facebook – you can quickly and easily check in to see if there’s anything new up at BN, or anything fun going on over at the BN Facebook page.